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Chhattisgarh celebrates Jogi's downfall

Jyoti Shukla in Raipur | December 08, 2003 21:44 IST

Chhattisgarh is celebrating the fall of Ajit Jogi. Effigies are being burnt and crackers are being burst all over. It appears as if the state has been gripped by election fever after the results.

It is hard to believe that Chhattisgarh just a week ago was hardly interested in the election. Most people said they had not made up their minds who to vote for. Some had not even decided whether to vote.

Ever since Ajit Jogi took charge of the new-born state three years ago, Chhattisgarh has witnessed unprecedented corruption in government and the advent of the politics of revenge, even murder. People did not feel confident of raising their voice against the administration. Chhattisgarh had been gripped by fear.

Even when elections were declared in the state, all was quiet among the common people. There were no gatherings at paan shops to discuss political fortunes. It seemed as if Chhattisgarh had lost faith in the electoral system.

But on December 1 Chhattisgarhi voters stumped political pundits by turning out in record numbers. The voting percentage was as high as 70 per cent. In some constituencies, it went up to even 80 per cent. This was the first indication that Jogi was likely to lose. Still, fear of the misuse and manipulation of official machinery kept people on tenterhooks.

On the morning of December 4, though early leads showed the Congress trailing, people were reluctant to celebrate. In Chhattisgarh, they knew, things change, and fast.

By 1600 IST, however, it was clear there was no chance of the Congress making a recovery. Jogi had shut himself up in his official residence 'Karuna'. Barricades were placed outside the house.

The mood on the streets had changed. Suddenly everyone was interested in the political fortunes of different candidates and parties. The crowds swelled outside the Election Commission's office and counting centre.

A day later, Chhattisgarh, happy at having brought about a regime change, was returning to normal life.

Then, on Saturday night, as TV news channels began telecasting reports of the 'Jogi bribery scandal', people were out on the streets rejoicing. There was no fear of a reprisal now. They knew.

On Sunday morning, Jogi left for New Delhi as crowds began burning his effigies and bursting crackers on the streets. From Jagadalpur (Bastar district) to Rajim (Raipur division), Jogi's effigies were burnt and foundation stones bearing his name were uprooted.

In Rajim, where one of Jogi's ministers, Amitesh Shukla, lost the election, joyous police personnel held an all-night party. They were celebrating 'the successful completion of elections'.

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